Death or Glory #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Bengal
Lettering by Rus Wooten
Published by Image Comics
'Rama Rating: 6 out of 10
For a story with such high emotional stakes, Death or Glory #1 feels strangely lifeless. The debut issue of Rick Remender’s latest series, out this week from Image Comics, follows one young woman’s quest to get her father a life-saving medical treatment come hell or high water - even if it means getting herself tangled back up in the extremely illegal activities of her extremely unpleasant ex. There’s a car chase, crooked cops, and a handsome stranger who likes to murder in unusual ways; it all feels like typical comic book fare, and despite Remender and Bengal’s comic book pedigrees, centering the action around a family that lives off the grid to avoid the government isn’t unusual or compelling enough to make this issue really stand out amidst a week of high-profile debuts.
Still, if you enjoy Remender’s other work, you’ll likely enjoy Death or Glory #1. The pacing is decent, and Bengal’s action sequences, particularly the car chases, are extremely well done - those moments are some of the most exciting of the book. It’s The Fast and The Furious in the moments where skill and pure tenacity are the key, the high-anxiety car chases on long stretches of winding road but never going over the top on the massive explosions. If this were a series more focused on Glory Owens: Racecar Driver, rather than Glory Owens, accidental criminal who coincidentally drives cars, it would be substantially more exciting. But as it is, this debut issue teases an interesting character dragged down by flat caricatures of conniving villains.
This is what makes this issue so especially frustrating. Glory’s a kind-hearted woman who’s made some bad choices and is willing to make a few more just to make sure her family can live out their lives in health and happiness. This debut issue is done just well enough that there’s a good chance this series as a whole could be an interesting and fun read for anyone who (again) loves Remender or even just loves seeing cool women kick ass behind the wheel, but there’s an awful lot of time spent with characters so gratingly crude and obnoxious in this debut that it’s hard to recommend picking up further installments in the hopes that the comeuppance they get will be satisfying enough to make up for how gross the are.
Death or Glory #1 seems to want to be a lot of things - a story about a woman driven to surprising lengths for her family, a story about startlingly vast criminal enterprises hiding in unusual places, a story about extremely rad car chases, and according to Remender himself, a story about truckers and the ways in which job automation is potentially devastating to certain segments of our economy - but it’s so little of all of those things that there’s not one overarching theme to really hook readers in. It’s hard to know who’s supposed to want to read this book from this debut issue of Death or Glory, which makes it a tough single issue to recommend.